Women’s March 2018: Madrid

Over the weekend, protesters and activists gathered in Madrid’s Plaza de Isabel II for a Women’s Rally in solidarity with the Women’s March that took place in cities all over the world. 

Metro - Opera

The original Women’s March, which took place on January 21st, 2017, was centered in Washington D.C., where nearly 500,000 people showed up a day after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. In New York City, where I was fortunate enough to be among the crowd last year, hundreds of thousands of people marched, in part to demonstrate against the new administration, but mostly, and more profoundly, to proclaim solidarity with one another. It was a remarkable moment.

I’ll admit, this year, as I saw the images from the anniversary marches on Saturday popping up all over social media, I was a little jealous and wistful for my time back in New York. There is much in the United States to be dismayed about these days, but the gathering and amplification of marginalized voices is a wonderful salve.

Here in Spain, the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement are not as prominent, for reasons both obvious (the March was organized, in large part, as a response to Donald Trump) and cultural (in a culture where physical touch is the norm, even among strangers, certain notions of sexual misconduct aren’t shared).

Madrid is fairly “liberal” by American standards. While unquestionably a Catholic city (with all the conflicting implications that would suggest), gay couples walk hand-in-hand most everywhere without a second thought and the younger population, at least, tends to express sympathy for refugees. There is also a large expat population here.

Crowd Signs 2

On Sunday, a day after the marches in the US, a Women’s March was held in the heart of Madrid. Billed as a “march,” it was, in fact, a rally, contained to the one plaza, with various speakers addressing the crowd of, perhaps, a couple thousand (my estimate is based purely on my view and no scientific analysis).

Speakers came up in pairs, with one person speaking in English and the other interpreting to Spanish (or vice versa). The speakers addressed various topics from many backgrounds, including poets and comedians, both women young and old, and even one man, a representative of the United States’ Democratic Party who was there to encourage Americans to register to vote and vote from abroad.

At times, chants would break out in the middle of the speeches, in pauses between interpretations. Usually those chants were in Spanish, sometimes in English. Mostly, though, the crowd expressed themselves with their signs, again, in a mix of both languages.

Even from a distance of 3,800 miles (or 6.100 kilometers for my Spaniards), there was one man who featured heavily on the signage and in the chants. Can you guess who?

La humanidad contra Trump
“Humanity against Trump.”

In Spain, where U.S. President Trump is more a curiosity (“por que?”) than a direct or existential (or nuclear) threat, his outsized reputation in both the media and on social networks keeps him at the forefront of the conversation about equality, racism, and sexual misconduct. An abundance of signs with expressions like “Impeach Trump” suggest that most in the crowd were Americans making their voices heard from abroad (it’s yet to be seen if those same voices will vote this year).

Let's talk about

Despite the tendency of America (and Americans) to take center stage, there were other issues on the minds of those gathered, as represented by some of the signs.

Aborto en Irlanda
“Ask me about the abortion law in Ireland.”

There were two or three different signs (in Spanish) regarding abortion laws in Ireland. I’ll admit my ignorance on the specifics (I didn’t ask her), but I am, of course, aware that Ireland is staunchly Catholic, and abortion rights are always a hotly contested issue.

El retorno de las brujas

The crowd was definitely heavily weighted towards Americans and English speakers, but plenty of Spanish women (and men) were in the mix. Like the marches in the United States, people came for different reasons and with individual purposes, but they were unified under a cause of furthering equality, challenging unjust systems, and holding those who abuse their power accountable.

Acabemos
“Let’s end the culture of silence.”

Most broadly, they were there to show unity, as women, as feminists, as LGBT, as Spaniards and Americans, and as global citizens. And as the march in 2017 had been, being among the many impassioned and dedicated women at the rally in Madrid was invigorating and affirming. I was happy to be there, and grateful to be there with many of my friends.

Megan, Stacey, Ella, Casey, Calla

For those who would question the purpose or efficacy of the marches, I have to ask, “Have you been paying attention?” The #MeToo movement was represented by Time’s Person of the Year selection of “The Silence Breakers” while 2017 was awash in conversation about sexual misconduct and assault. Now, in 2018, a record number of women are running for political office in the United States. It’s not a coincidence that last year began with a massive unification of women.

What lies ahead for this political movement and moment is uncertain, but it’s hard to imagine these voices suddenly going silent. If 2017 was the year women finally said, “Enough,” it seems pretty much inevitable 2018 is the year they say, “Now it’s my turn.”

From my vantage point, it’s clear they mean business.

Womb Tang Clan

St. Roch Blues: A storm rages in New Orleans

Chapter VIII

[Names have been changed]

“I love you,” I whispered. Perched on my chest, Ava repeated the words back to me.

A little over a week later, she broke us up to be with someone else.

This story is, as all of them are, more complex, but in the next weeks, as I obsessively replayed the movie in my mind, these were the only two plot points that mattered.

We met in Chicago when we were both in long-term relationships. Like my own relationship at the time, Ava’s was perpetually rocky, and so we confided in one another about the circumstances of our dissatisfaction, as friends.

Then she visited me two summers later. Newly single, she and another friend, Nadie, came to explore Seattle, beauties sans commitments. On the first night of their visit, having given them my bedroom for their stay, I was preparing to sleep on the couch when Ava came into the living room, bent over, and kissed me on the lips.

I’d never had a woman make the first move before and it caught me quite by surprise. The following day was spent exchanging furtive looks until that night, with Nadie gone to bed, Ava once again came to me. A couple days later, the two of them returned to Chicago and that was to be the end of it.

Do Not

The Air

New Orleans is far and away the most idiosyncratic city of all I’ve lived in, a village from the past thrust haphazardly into the future, with a personality so distinct that, at times, it could feel like a foreign country. It was exhilarating, but also wearying.

I avoided Hurricane Isaac by three days, but not the damage. Almost all of New Orleans outside the economic hub of the French Quarter was without power. With temperatures in the 90s and humidity thick as taffy, I sweated through my first weekend, unable to sleep, crushed by the atmosphere.

Like many of the inhabitants of New Orleans, my new roommate, Donatella, was not locally grown but had nonetheless embraced the city as her one true home. She did her best to give me a proper welcome, greeting me with a shot of vodka the moment I stepped out of the taxi before bar hopping me to the French Quarter. Insistent air conditioners whirled in the Quarter, but there was no escaping the  oppressive heat.

Southern DecadenceI wasn’t suffering alone. The entire city was on edge, even with Southern Decadence providing a festive aura of greased up, naked men dancing in the streets. My first night, I tagged along with Donatella who was tending bar at the AllWays Lounge, a home and performance space for the proud mutants and outsiders of New Orleans. Nudity and liquor were flowing, but the move and the heat had melted my energy.

“One second,” Donatella commanded after I told her I was calling it a night. Reaching under the counter and into her bag, she came back up wearing her radiant, incorruptible smile and holding out a box cutter. “Take this. Just in case.” The darkened St. Roch neighborhood was no place to walk without protection, especially on a roiling September night.

The Clouds

As had been the case with some of my previous moves, a budding romance distracted me from the difficulties of adjusting to a new locale. This year, it was Ava.

Ever since Seattle, we’d been exchanging daily texts and emails, with plans for her to visit in October. Built upon a three-year friendship, our relationship blossomed quickly. In discussing the future, it was suggested that she move to New York City where she could further her fashion career. It meant more time apart, but after seven years of travel, two didn’t seem so long. To have a beautiful woman waiting at the finish line felt like a perfect, Hollywood ending.

Meanwhile, even though my savings went a long way in New Orleans’ cheap economy, I wasn’t taking any chances. I accepted the first job offer I received, working at one of New Orleans’ most mismanaged 4-Star restaurants. The nightmare conditions were due almost entirely to the GM, a ladder climbing egotist who ruled disinterestedly as the restaurant’s sommelier, yet rarely made appearances in the presence of a customer.

That job taught me that New Orleans rewarded free-spiritedness and penalized a work ethic. As the year progressed, I naively believed I’d be rewarded for dependability, but instead, my coworkers enjoyed their holidays off while I served an empty dining room. I should’ve heeded Donatella’s warnings. She encouraged me to look for less regimented employment in the essentially citywide, gig economy. Alas.

The Wind

I suffered through the heat until it broke in October. The city came alive again as it prepared for its second favorite holiday, Halloween, AKA warm-up for Mardi Gras. I explored the city with my roommate, but the party generally came to my door. Donatella’s irresistible personality drew in everyone, and so our apartment was a hive of varied and interesting strangers blowing through. Almost literally.

St Roch AvDonatella had sold me on the “shotgun”-style house, a floor plan that abandons hallways and fourth walls for an unbroken passage from front door to back. In my roommate’s perspective, this nurtured a free-flowing, open, and creative living environment. Fine in theory, but in practice it meant no privacy.

My room was the only route to the kitchen from Donatella’s room. I erected a partition out of thick sheets, but even with flimsy doors between our separate spaces, all barriers were essentially ornamental. Sound carried indiscriminately. With Donatella being a fully realized, independent, and carnal woman, I went to sleep many nights with headphones affixed to my ears.

Work drained my spirit and home didn’t provide the rejuvenating solitude I needed after spending the day with people. New Orleans was exhausting me, and not in the fun way.

For this reason, Ava’s daily messages and looming visit were my sole source of restoration in those early months. When she finally did arrive at the end of October, we had the kind of sublime reunion so rarely enjoyed by long-distance lovers. Seeing New Orleans – its towering churches, the Museum of Art, the street performers – with Ava’s fresh eyes made the city beautiful. There was no awkward acclimation period, no time wasted on rediscovering our groove. Laying together after reacquainting our bodies, we spoke of our love.

But she couldn’t stay. On my own again, real life nullified the highs of our romantic weekend,  each day proving anew that the Big Easy cared nothing for my worsening mental state. My daily notes to Ava grew increasingly despondent, and so, when in early November she told me she couldn’t keep the relationship going, a part of me expected it.

The Trinity (Cropped)

The Storm

I couldn’t even reel in private. Donatella walked into my “room” just as I hung up with Ava. She was kind enough to offer a comforting hug and invite me out to drown my sorrows in booze. Strangely, that night I turned down her invitation.

Depression was overwhelming my entire being. I knew it was too much to count on Ava to shoulder my burden, so while the breakup devastated me, I understood. Until, that is, the inevitable Facebook post of Ava with her new boyfriend some weeks later. Now there was an acute sense of rejection to go with my loss.

For a time, Donatella was an unbelievably gracious source of comfort. When I had to work from 9 am to 11 pm on Thanksgiving – the one holiday I celebrate – she greeted me upon my return with a bear hug and a plate of leftovers. She then escorted me out for drinks and lively karaoke performances (her, not me).

After tiring of Kajun’s Pub, she used her key to let us into the closed Allways Lounge. Under a soft, orange glow, we sat together at the empty bar’s piano, shoulder to shoulder, neither one of us knowing what we were doing, and riffed for hours. From our staccato notes emerged restorative, shattered music. I felt weightless for the first time in months.

We walked home with the rising sun, raw with emotions. That night I’d seen the darkness in Donatella that she mostly covered by emitting light like a strobe. She opened up about a history of abuse, a wound still tender, both from the pain she had endured and the guilt she felt for another victim left behind. Her heavy and intimate confession underlined a growing platonic affection between us more substantial than anything I’d had with Ava.

Naturally, it didn’t last.

The Wasteland

The Devastation

Years of itinerancy had taken their toll. I was unable to make the simplest human connections knowing that in a short time I’d be gone, a barely remembered name popping up in a newsfeed. People were temporary and I was a ghost. Ava’s disappearance had been particularly crushing; for a brief time, I’d fooled myself into believing in her permanence.

Amplifying this instability were the unending guests passing through our doors. Donatella signed us up to host  couch surfers. I’d wake up to unknown out-of-towners on the couch; sometimes they were bar patrons she’d met the night before who’d taken her up on an offer of a place to crash. If I had had a door on my room, I might have found the rotating cast of strangers vaguely endearing.

The depression would not relent. Under a confluence of factors, no one cause, my mind had become a tempest, volatile, erratic, boiling over one moment in manic rage, then leaving me hollow and weeping on my floor. I couldn’t even feel in possession of my own emotions.

It’s easier, now, to accept why Donatella lost patience, but at the time it was just one more battlefront, our once close friendship degenerated into screaming matches. It was a cruel irony that a woman who welcomed everyone and readily accepted any sexual, gender, or racial identity, found my illness so intolerable. Perhaps it just hit too close to home.

And yet, no one hates a person with depression more than the person themselves.

In December, distraught over everything – my job, my home, my broken heart, myself – I resolved to end it. Suicide had always hovered in the back of my mind, a personal nuclear option, but now, I woke up and went to sleep contemplating it. I made a plan: At month’s end, I’d throw myself off of the Crescent City Connection into the Mississippi River. The thought of sinking brought me rare moments of peace.

I suppose I gave myself a buffer, in part, because my brain goes through cycles and I knew there was a possibility I could still rise out of stark misery. Instead, each day, I felt worse. I became a practical mute at work and stayed offline, falling further into isolation. When no one seemed to notice, I took that as confirmation of my worthlessness, justification for my choice.

Marianne noticed.

On an evening in mid-December, my D.C. friend from college appeared on the caller ID. Surprised, I almost let it go to voicemail, but succumbed to curiosity.

“Hey,” she said in her hesitant, unassuming way. “Hadn’t seen you post lately, thought I’d check how things were going with you.” Without hyperbole: Marianne saved my life that night.

I didn’t admit to her what I planned to do, probably attempted to sound lighthearted and casual, but after we talked briefly, I hung up and bawled. For once, the tears brought relief. Such a simple act; Gomorrah spared for the benevolence of one friend.

Life on the Bayou

Clear Skies, Again

Life didn’t immediately improve. Climbing out of the depths is a process.

My rift with Donatella grew apace and after five months, I relocated to a new apartment in Mid-City with co-workers. The job remained a drudge, but an incredibly lucrative one. I earned more money serving the well-heeled of New Orleans than I’ve ever made at any other job. I could pay to see a show or buy a necessity without checking my bank account. I reached my savings goal so easily that I gleefully quit my job a month and a half early.

Despite my mental state, NOLA gave me extraordinary, one-of-a-kind experiences: waking up early on Fat Tuesday to drink Irish coffee in a crowd of colorful costumes on Frenchmen Street; sinking into mud while watching Fleetwood Mac at Jazz Fest; dancing upstairs at Blue Nile and being kissed by a stranger; feeling the city’s incomparable rhythms pulsing from every street corner. Hell, even the graphic gay porn playing on the TVs upstairs at Phoenix Bar was delightful in its own way.

Cracked by Mother Nature and enshrined by ineffectual governance, the city’s splintered infrastructure can’t hide that underneath it all, NOLA and her people are big-hearted and dynamic. Still, like that friend who always knows where the party’s at, sometimes you’re just not in the mood to answer her call.

Which is to say, I’d take any opportunity to visit New Orleans; I’ll just never live there again.

In the summer, New Orleans’s suffocating heat and humidity returned, but planning for Boston invigorated me. After only one more year, I would finally arrive in the Promised Land.

 

 

Keep Reading: Chapter IX – Boston

Teachable Moments: The Fragility of Manhood

I’m roughly a third of the way through my TEFL Certification course with ITA. The course is designed to prepare students to teach English in a variety of classrooms, both traditional and nontraditional, as well as to work as a private tutor. As I read about different teaching philosophies and method, I can’t help but think about my own experiences as a student.

This particular story isn’t about how a teacher inspired me, or about an innovative teaching style. This is a story about a teacher speaking to his class in an unexpected and, ultimately, sad moment.

(Warning: There is use of a particular slur in this story that some will find offensive.)

When we entered after lunch, Mr. Capp* was at the front of the class as usual, standing straight up in pressed slacks, a button-up shirt, and a solid green tie. He neither dressed formally in suits like Mr. Harkins, the civics teacher, or casually in short-sleeved polos like Mr. Wells who taught English and coached girls’ tennis; he taught Senior Psychology. Having entered into his 30s with an unassuming handsomeness, he watched us in silence.

Of my non-Humanities classes. Psychology was by far my favorite, an interest that would carry on into college. Two sections were of particular interest, the first on human sexuality and the other Depression-related disorders. Mr. Capp approached both subjects with professional nonchalance, covering subjects like homosexuality and suicide – delicate topics in any high school, let alone in the Midwest – with the same matter-of-factness as Ms. Pohl explaining vectors.  As his sartorial choices suggested, Mr. Capp straddled the line between Student’s Buddy and Strict Mentor. He knew how to engage with students, but he would commonly remind us that we were seniors and that meant we needed to act like upperclassmen. He had no patience for laziness or entitled students.

This particular Tuesday, he was uncharacteristically tightlipped as we streamed in.

Two weeks prior, in a discussion on gender norms, Mr. Capp had given a remarkably sympathetic and forward-thinking lecture, espousing the potentially controversial stance that one’s biological sex must not necessarily determine one’s gender or how one expressed it. To illustrate this theme, he split the class up into a male and female group and then had the groups compete in a series of stereotypically gender-specific tasks, such as running in heels and throwing a football. The catch was that the teams picked which member from the other team would compete in each activity.

Being a mostly anonymous student at the school, I assumed (and hoped) I would be able to ride out the whole competition in the background. To my great chagrin, I was chosen to participate in one event: I had to fasten a hinge between two blocks of wood. Apparently the ladies had figured I might not be the “manliest” kid in the class – perceptive, these ones. Their astute observation paid off as I was defeated handily by my female competitor. If it was any consolation to my team, the guys did win the high heels race.

Despite my embarrassment – and I was still young and insecure enough for the loss to feel deeply shameful – I enjoyed the section and found the topic to be reassuring.

This is what made the strange occurrence in Mr. Capp’s class that Tuesday all the more confusing. With all the students settled into their seats, Mr. Capp remained briefly silent. This was already an odd start since he was not one to waste any of the class period. We had just started the section on Bipolar Disorder, but when he finally did speak, it was not to begin the lecture.

“Last night, after school let out, I went to visit my mother.” I think most of us assumed Mr. Capp was telling us a story to illustrate the lesson. We quickly realized that wasn’t the case. “While I was in her house, some coward vandalized her property.” I don’t recall now if he actually said the word or merely suggested it, but either way, we all knew what had happened: Someone spray-painted the word ‘faggot’ on his mother’s driveway. “We know it was a student and the police will be thoroughly investigating.”

He continued through contained rage on the subject of respect and maturity. The entire class listened with the kind of rapt attention most teachers could only dream of. The speech Mr. Capp delivered probably only lasted five minutes, but it felt like it took up the whole class. There was undeniable fury seething behind Mr. Capp’s stony expression, his commitment to total professionalism losing out to filial devotion. He tried to focus his anger through derision, mocking the perpetrator for being dumb enough to not even graffiti the right house, but there was no mirth in his tone.

Then the venting took an unexpected turn.

“If there’s anyone here who questions whether I’m a man, we can go outside right now and I’ll prove it. Are you man enough to fight me? Or just a coward vandalizing an old woman’s house in the dark?” It would have been laughable if it hadn’t been stated with such virulence.

What were we supposed to make of this bizarre presentation? How could someone who had just weeks earlier taught us that gender norms were a societal construct now face us and insist that he would defend his manhood through the most banal display of machismo?

The simplest answer is that sometimes we can know something intellectually but not internalize that knowledge. In heightened emotional states, in those moments when we need them the most, we rarely maintain our grasp on our ideals. The whole display – his anger, his barely maintained façade, his hypocrisy – was in its own way one of the most profound lessons I’ve ever received.

It didn’t take long for someone to find the ID of a student in the lawn of Mr. Capp’s mother. It belonged to Brady, a rich kid who no one seemed to actually like yet who occupied the center of the most popular social circle, an argument for class privilege if you ever needed one. One of those seniors who intended to ride out his final year in pud classes, it’s no surprise that Brady ran afoul of Mr. Capp and bristled at being asked to put in actual effort. 

As Seniors, we thought of ourselves as the elder statesmen, but Brady proved, we were still just kids.

I have no idea if Mr. Capp still teaches or whether anyone ever took him up on his challenge. I also don’t know what happened to Brady, though I suspect very little in terms of punishment or lasting consequence. Despite the disheartening display that Tuesday afternoon, I still think of Mr. Capp’s class as one of the most influential factors in my educational path, one that included many more psychology courses and has continued well beyond the formal classroom.

I wonder if Mr. Capp still thinks back on that day; if so, does he regrets his words? Maybe he’s ashamed, or maybe he feels it was justified.  Perhaps, due to cognitive dissonance – a concept I’d only study later in my college psych courses – he has somehow mentally rearranged the incident into something heroic or even noble, crafting a personal narrative in which he stood before his classroom and displayed the model of an enlightened, post-gender male. I’ll never know. It doesn’t matter.

It might be strange to say this but, I actually did learn a lot from this experience. It was the beginning of a long arc for me, coming to terms with my own idea of masculinity and strength. It’s a lesson we continue to learn every day, as Mr. Capp proved.

It’s also a reminder that, whether in front of a classroom or tutoring a student one-on-one, any moment as a teacher can be significant.

*All names are made up.

[“Calvin and Hobbes” created by Bill Watterson.]

What can a white, heterosexual, cisgender male do? Listen.

This past week has been loud.

Our entrance into the Gilded Phage erupted in protests, violence, and hate speech, while Twitter fights, Facebook rants, and, most vital, thoughtful blog posts remain at pre-Election levels. Voices are still reaching the cheap seats as dire warnings of an encroaching wave of racism and bigotry are met with caustic dismissals demanding people “Wait and see” and “Stop whining.” It’s a wall of sound that would make Phil Spector tumescent.

This election proved one thing: there are a lot of white, heterosexual, cisgender males in this country, and despite assertions that they are the new oppressed minority, they remain both the most powerful and vocal force in American politics. As a member of that demographic, I have never felt so dismayed to be so visible.

For the last year, ever since I completed 10 Cities, I’ve been largely silent. Up until last week, this website had gone dark and I had minimized my Facebook presence (I’ve remained somewhat active on Twitter; my apologies). I’ve been practicing a skill that doesn’t come naturally to me: Listening.


Listening to voices that aren’t white, heterosexual, cisgender, and/or male is critical for the continued growth of our society and for our growth as individuals. We only need look at last Tuesday to know what’s at stake when we don’t.

One of the ways I’ve been reminding myself to be a better listener is intentionally seeking out voices that wouldn’t naturally enter my sphere of interests. As a white, heterosexual, cisgender male, I’m striving to engage with the points of view of those who aren’t. I’ve not intentionally avoided or ignored those voices in the past, but by nature of our societal structure, I’ve done it all the same.

So far, this endeavor has had the greatest impact in my consumption of art, particularly music and literature. I’ve read assault narratives and about rape culture (Alice Sebold and Kate Harding), read fiction from people of color (Colson Whitehead and Zadie Smith; Zadie pisses me off because her first novel is just so damn good) as well as non-American authors (Arturo Perez-Reverte). I’ve read many other authors (including plenty of white males) this last year, but I hope to find even more diverse voices next year. 

Additionally, and to a much greater extent, I’ve been listening to a more varied slate of musical artists. My musical taste has always been eclectic, but my go-tos have generally been white, straight dudes. It seems like a trivial thing because it’s an easy thing; I love music and I love finding new artists. And yet, as easy as it is to do, it still had to be a conscious choice. Ultimately, that minimum effort to expand my palate has been deeply enriching.

To that end, I’m concluding this post with a by-no-means-exhaustive list of artists who are not white, or not male, or not straight, or not cisgender. The list could expand indefinitely, but these just happen to be some that I’ve come to really appreciate over the last year and who, importantly, offer a broader perspective.

And, finally, to my fellow white, heterosexual, cisgender males: There’s no prize for listening, no pat on the back; there’s just the pleasant reality that so many voices deserve our attention and we are invariably enriched by the simple experience of hearing a new perspective.

I hope you enjoy the music and that you’ll keep listening.

Gallant – Episode

Against Me! – Black Me Out

Tegan and Sara – Boyfriend

Lydia Loveless – Midwestern Guys

Solange – Don’t Touch My Hair

Proud

Friday, June 26th, 2015 will go down as a historic day for the United States. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case that will forever be bedazzled with the title “Landmark,” Obergefell v. Hodges, has made same sex marriage legal throughout the United States.

Approximately 5 seconds later – or the length of time it takes a air to travel from the lungs to the rage center of the brain – the opposition declared that the fight was not over. This decision would be overturned and the gays would be put back in their place. Harrumph!

In reality, despite how much time the pundits will squeeze out of questioning if the decision might be overturned, even if the most Conservatist Conservative who ever Conserved was elected to the presidency, this law isn’t going anywhere. Same Sex Marriage is here to stay.

How do I know this? A number of reasons.

1. Roe V. Wade

Roe V. Wade is still on the books and that decision is by no means as popular as Obergefell v. Hodges. Even 8 years of a Bush presidency couldn’t overturn the LANDMARK abortion case. That doesn’t mean states can’t do their best to restrict safe abortion access to their unfortunate inhabitants, but from a national point of view, Rod V. Wade – like Obergerfell V. Hodges – is here to stay.

2. Corporate Sponsorship

On Sunday, I forced my lazy ass to get out of bed and head over to Manhattan for a few hours before work so I could witness the all out Bacchanalia that was surely going to be occurring at the Gay Pride Parade. After all, 48 hours earlier, gay people in this country won the biggest battle of their collective history. It had been predicted by one highly reputable source that this would be the “Most Buck-Wild Pride Parade Nation’s Ever Seen.

Pride Hand-in-Hand

When I got there, the first thing I saw was a float covered in cheerful, fully dressed people all wearing rainbow colored shirts that preached a message of tolerance, love and hope. Just kidding, the shirts all had the MasterCard logo on them. There were floats advertising TV shows and networks, including the Netflix float that featured cast members from Orange Is The New Black (I’m sorry, I mean #OITNB), and there were floats selling food, drinks and stuff.

Every street corner had somebody shilling rainbow colored product in the name of Gay Pride and Capitalism. Gay Pride is profitable and everyone knows that, while God is pretty popular in America, Money is King. If corporations are people, then the people have spoken.

I went down to the parade expecting Mardi Gras after dark. Instead, I found Mardi Gras at noon.

Firefighter Pride

Which brings me to my final and main reason I know the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling isn’t going anywhere.

3. Children

Child Pride

Gay Pride is where you take your family. Granted, I live in New York City, not Des Moines, so the acceptance of gays here is obviously going to be greater, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is an entire generation of children growing up in a world where same sex marriage is now legal, and no amount of anger and political fearmongering is going to convince them to change that.

As the shooting in Charleston two weeks ago proved, hate and bigotry don’t just suddenly evaporate. There will always be divisions in humanity. There will always be prejudice. There will always be individuals who feel devalued or marginalized who will then strike out at some group.

Obergefell v. Hodges will not suddenly end discrimination against homosexuals. Hell, some forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation are still permitted by law. Just as racism didn’t end in the 60s (or the 70s, or the 80s, or the 90s, or the 00s, or the…), homophobia will not disappear. The phrase, “I have gay friends but…” will continue to be the mating call of the Homo phabiens for years to come.

But. But! BUTT! (Oops, sorry, got excited). But starting with the 90s and even more so in the 00s and onward, we’ve had entire generations raised in a world in which homosexuals have basic human rights and are treated, largely, like normal human beings. Every child born since 2010 will grow up never really remembering a time when same sex marriage wasn’t a thing.

The Republican presidential candidates may talk about how the Supreme Court went too far in their decision (for fuck’s sake, even the dissenting members of the Supreme Court will say it), but in the end, the political Right is happy to have this issue out of the debate*. They know, like all reasonable people have known for years, that the cultural shift has long been in favor of equality. A Republican party that still has opposition to same sex marriage in their platform will never reach the White House again.

Case Closed?

When Chief Justice Roberts said in his dissent that “5 lawyers” (kind of like him) had “closed the debate” on same sex marriage, he was claiming that the Supreme Court’s decision wrongly took the subject out of the hands of the American people and settled the debate. Which, you know, is kind of the job of the Supreme Court, but whatever.

Except, this debate isn’t over. The American people have never let a court decision quell their love of bickering. Roe V. Wade didn’t end the debate over abortion. We will continue to debate this topic in our schools, our churches, our bars and at our watercoolers (Cool it, though, Janet is coming).

The difference, though, is that now a class of American citizens won’t have their rights restricted while we have this debate.

So celebrate. Love wins. June 26th, 2015 will forever be an important day. A landmark day. It is, after all, the day America joined the future.

Pride In the Empire State

*Other than Ted Cruz who has no chance of being elected but wants to win the title of Most Conservative Candidate so he can put the plaque on his mantel next to his bowling trophies.

Same Sex Marriage Is Legal

This website has devoted many many words to the fight for marriage equality over the years. Today’s monumental ruling by the Supreme Court that finally, inevitably made same sex marriage legal is a victory worthy of great celebration.

In time, I will have processed the information enough to write something marginally compelling, but for the moment it just feels good to bask in the nation’s celebration. In that spirit, here are just a few of my favorite images from Twitter today.

Go out, celebrate and have yourself a Gay ol’ time!

Justice Pride Colors Pride House States Where Same Sex Marriage Is LegalWhen Can I Marry

Flag SwapGeneral Pride

Obama Winning